It’s not just about automating invoice processing. Yes, that’s important. And it’s not just about automating sales orders. Although that’s important too. It’s just not enough.
No matter what you call it—automating, streamlining, expediting, etc.—fixing one part of your financial processes does make a difference, but you aren’t leveraging the benefits of financial process automation.
Consider each of the major financial processes (procure-to-pay, quote-to cash and record-to report) as interrelated steps of the financial staircase leading to comprehensive automation; each providing the necessary foundational support for better managing the business. Missing a step can cause a mishap or compromise in the overall performance of the business.
Step 1: Procure-to-Pay
Here, we think of ourselves as the buyers of things. Buyers throughout our company are trying complete business transactions as efficiently as possible. Each buyer is asking, how do I optimize the procurement of goods and services? How and from whom do I buy these offerings? While we strive to make the best purchasing decision, our choice could sometimes be in conflict with the overall corporate goals if we do not leverage preferred suppliers and negotiated pricing.
We might start with various sourcing options (bidding, auctioning, RFI, RFP) to negotiate contracts. How do we purchase? It might occur through purchase requisition or a credit card program. How do we manage that process? Do we understand how and when to pay for exploiting discount opportunities and avoiding late payment penalties? How transparent is the process? And can we audit and avoid fraud or other issues that could impact the organization?
Suppliers send us information in many different formats, languages and currencies. Managing these documents and files is difficult. If you have manual purchase order matching, it could take weeks to process invoices depending on the volume, given the requirement for reconciliation and validation. Lack of transparency in the system can likely trigger off-cycle payment runs (yes, another fire drill). Did we mention the likelihood of unhappy suppliers?
Power Your Financial Processes: See invoice processing agility in action in this 3-minute demo video
Step 2: Quote-to-Cash
Quote to Cash is all about the buyers’ intent to make a purchase and the fulfilment of that transaction. This step includes pricing, quoting and contracting, sales order creation, order fulfilment, collection and cash application.
As with the procure-to-pay process there are a lot of documents that need validation and reconciliation. We might not receive the information in formats that are compatible with our manual processes. How will we know the customer is getting the most current product or service? Data must be routed to the right people to take action. For example, let’s say you have about 20,000 active customers, which yields over 1.8 million order lines that need validation, annually. This kind of volume processed manually often results in lost data, lost business and possibly lost customers. While customers might not come to expect their interaction with you to mimic an Amazon purchase, removing manual roadblocks provides substantial benefits.
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Step 3: Record-to-Report
Record to report is the culminating step of the financial process staircase. This is the critical step for reaching your goal of providing insight to the company’s strategic, financial and operational activities.
All the data in the previous two steps lead up to this process step. Having to manage all this information, and ensure visibility and auditability is important for the overall financial health of the organization. Having an accurate financial close and reporting system provides us a view of what happened in the business during the period.
There could be thousands of balance sheet reconciliations (many on Excel spreadsheets) and possibly a large number of supporting reports to review and consolidate. How are we going to process this data on time? While you may employ resources working around the clock, there’s may still be delays in workflow and/or communications (email, etc.), especially if many of the process are not automated
Not to mention the burden that various regulatory bodies or analysts place on your company, expecting you to close books and release earnings statements within a predefined period.
Whether you are a public or private organization, automation of these three financial processing steps will assure that the data presented to management, the board, analysts or the public is timely and accurate.
Automating Inside SAP:
- Digitizing Financial Processes: KBC, a bank assurance group serving over 10 million customers, was inundated with 90,000 invoices annually and had over 15,000 employees handling these documents. Automating in their SAP leveraging ReadSoft Process Director, KBC was able to digitize the entire process, providing transparency, immediacy and accuracy.
- Tighter Integration with SAP: A multinational food corporation saw exponential growth, and its AP department struggled to manage 6,000-7,000 invoices per month and 2,500 suppliers; it was taking up to 30 days to process and pay an invoice. With the implementation of ReadSoft Process Director for SAP, automating the AP process provided a 50% productivity increase without adding additional headcount.
Ready to learn more about transforming financial processes from Procure-to-Pay and Quote-to-Cash to Record-to Report inside SAP? See in action here: